Chinca Norte Island lo res

Revisiting The Colony

A one-day online sym­po­sium expand­ing upon Hard­wick Gallery’s pre­sen­ta­tion of Dinh Q. Lê’s video instal­la­tion, The Colony (2016)

This interdisciplinary symposium invites leading academics, writers and curators to reflect on the themes of resource extraction, metabolic debt and colonialism raised by artwork and explored in their own research. Speakers include Nigel Clarke and Bronislaw Szerszynski (authors of Planetary Social Thought), Jane Hutton (author of Reciprocal Landscapes) and UoG researcher Jean Boyd.

Lê’s work is set in the striking and desolate Chincha Islands, still home to vast numbers of colonising seabirds. In the mid C19th the deposits of guano, accumulated over centuries, became a resource of intense interest to accelerating economies and rival colonial powers for its remarkable fertilising properties. The rapid depletion of this landscape enabled equally rapid growth and abundant productivity in other landscapes, far away. Enabled by global logistics chains, bonded labour, imperial territorial claims and staggering profits from an exhaustible commodity, Lê’s installation starts to dissolve the distance we might seek to maintain between there and here, then and now.

In the five years since The Colony’s first exhibition there has been increasing debate concerning links between economic disparity, resource extraction, food production and our environment, and the entanglement of these with colonial histories. Soil fertility, access to resource-rich territories, and the human and environmental costs of extraction remain intractable geopolitical issues today.

Join us in revisiting The Colony in 2021. We will consider how artists and their work might act as catalysts for questioning our landscapes, their social and more-than-human histories, and the decisions being made now about our resources and environmental futures.

Register to attend at and instructions to attend the online event will be sent in due course.
Chinca Norte Island lo res